Monday, November 01, 2021

In a nutshell - Part 2 - The Old Testament in a nutshell


                                                            All photos courtesy of Unsplash

In my previous post, I talked about the expression ‘in a nutshell’. It’s quite quaint and quirky, but it gets the message across. I was interested to discover that the expression originated in Greece and alludes to the Roman writer Pliny's description of Homer's Iliad being copied in so tiny a hand that it could fit in a nutshell. It has come to mean that you get all the key information you need in a precise statement.

The Lord Jesus used this idea in Matthew chapter 7 when He talked about how to treat other people. Jesus said, ‘do unto others as you want them to do to you’. We often call this the golden rule. He ended this lesson by saying, ‘this is the law and the prophets’ - in a nutshell.

Again Matthew records Jesus teaching in chapter 22 of his gospel. He taught that the law and the prophets hang on two statements.

  1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and;
  2. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The Lord Jesus was in effect summarising the whole of the Old Testament in two statements - in a nutshell.

I like it when someone gets straight to the point and lets me know clearly what they are talking about. The Lord Jesus was an expert at this.

He was telling us God is saying that:

  1. Humans should behave to others the way they would like to be treated;
  2. People should love God with every fibre of their being; 
  3. God expects us to love our neighbour the way we love ourselves.

But here’s the problem. Do we and can we? It seems impossible to live up to such a high standard.

You are right!

It is impossible to live up to God's high standard for the human race in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, God gave humans these standards to demonstrate why we needed His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. 

The New Testament makes this fact clear when it states - ‘Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin’, Rom. 3:19-20.

It is not that there is anything wrong with God’s standards. It is because of our rebellious nature that we are incapable of living up to them.

So we need someone to rescue us and save us. That person, is Jesus, the Son of God.

The Bible says, ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’ 1 Tim. 1. 15. And again, in Acts chapter 13 verses 38-39 it is recorded: ‘Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses’.

I hope you can see all that you need to know about salvation in these precise statements from the Bible. God has put all this truth ‘in a nutshell’ so that we can know forgiveness, joy and peace through believing. 


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